You’ll not be surprised that this small corner should link to a blogpost like this about submission in marriage…
Category Archives: bible
How very post-modern and emergent of me to talk about story.
I did it almost a year ago having just read a Donald Miller book and Kevin over on creideamh.ie just did it (although I must admit it was a little over my head in parts! Perhaps I’ll understand him when I’m older 😉 ), so its all very hip and current.
Anyway, I was just reading about Joseph (in the bible that is) – a well-known story from my Sunday School infancy and my Girls’ Brigade stage performance (I was a dancer – yep, me – a DANCER. Made a change from my narrating days in Primary School.). I got to the part about Potiphar’s wife fancying a piece of his action (if you know what I mean) and him being all, like, ‘nice try lady, but I’m not into that’ and dashing off, foolishly leaving his coat behind. Cue dramatic music and scene change. Potiphar comes home to his wife’s story about Joseph’s attempt to taste the forbidden fruit (if you know what I mean) and in the space of 4 average length biblical verses, Joseph is thrown in prison, becomes bezzy mates with the jailor and ends up running the show (if you know what I mean).
That got me thinking. Even though it says that God was with Joseph, attributing that as to why Joseph finds favour, I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen overnight. It probably took months if not years of ‘good behaviour’ for Joseph to be recognised as trustworthy and upright. We’re not told about the days where he cried at the injustice, nor the times where he questioned God, nor the nights he spent sleeplessly on a cold stone floor. We don’t hear about the daily grind of Joseph’s life in prison.
And that’s the thing – stories often take longer than one single day to unfurl. How did Joseph end up where he was? Its a long story. How did I end up in France? Its a long story. How did this person end up becoming a follower of Jesus? Its a long story…
I suppose faith is being ready to live the days that make up the story and still hold on to God. How will I make it through this conflict at work? Its a long story. How will I deal with my husband’s illness? Its a long story. How can I live my life for God when nothing looks the way I hoped it would? Its a long story…
But the good thing about stories, is that there are usually sub-plots and diversions – the little stories that happen within minutes. Like a last-minute dash for the train and the euphoria of making it by the skin of your teeth. Like a child’s inadvertant poetry: “Mummy, you’re beautiful like a flower, more beautiful than colour”. Like a stunning sunset as you drive off on holiday with friends.
“For such a time as this” is the most quoted line from this little Old Testament book. As I picked it up tonight, after exfoliating and moisturising my face and scrutinising my flaws in the mirror, I wondered what a story about a beauty pageant winner might have to tell me.
Reading the story from Peterson’s The Message translation (is that the right word for it?) certainly helps with the flow of this little récit about a shaky moment in Israel’s history. I had never realised before that King Xerxes’s reason (or rather that fed to him and enflamed by his advisors) for banishing and essentially divorcing his wife Queen Vashti were so sexist.
After days of revelry and drunkenness, Xerxes decides he’d like to show off his beautiful trophy-wife in front of all his mates. She refuses. We could elegise Vashti and say it was because she did not want to demean herself or whatever, but I’d say it could equally be because she was concerned with her own girly party and was looking worse for wear, or couldn’t be bothered getting changed…! But anyway. Her refusal is seen as an affront to Xerxes’ authority and ownership of her – the King can’t control his own wife?!? The men (some probably trying not to snigger behind their hands) terrify the King that the whole land of women will be in uproar and will be disobeying their husbands right left and centre!
So Queen Vashti is punished – they make an example of her in order to keep the whole nation of women subordinate to their husbands.
Suddenly this ‘story about a beauty pageant’ got more interesting to me…
Its nearly bedtime so I’m not gonna spend ages pontificating about this, but here is what struck me… Firstly I can almost smell the boorishness of Xerxes and his buddies – not an unfamiliar scent even today. Secondly, Xerxes’ wife was the least of his problems – it was the power his reputation in the eyes of his male friends had over him that would worry me! Third, the desire for control, absolute control, over people (in this case women in particular) and their behaviour in relation to one’s own desired state of affairs. And four – the role of ‘fearful what-ifs’ in making a complete shambles of a situation.
Fast forward to Esther’s reign as queen. It seems to me that her power and influence grows stronger – she seems to have been given a place in decisions that matter. Is it that Xerxes was madly in love with her? Was he under her power because of her beauty? Or was it that she had proved herself as capable and righteous because of her petition on behalf of her people? Did he have more respect for her character and goodness? Was he listening less to those eejits he’d had around him before? Who knows.
I like that Esther had more influence and that she is hailed for her courage and faithfulness in ‘such a time as this’ is good and right. But I can’t help but notice that there’s a rather bloody end to this tale…
Once the order to exterminate the Jews was revoked, the King had granted them the right to arm and defend themselves should anyone have missed or disobeyed the revoke. Fair enough… But suddenly the land becomes a blood bath! The Jews kill 75,000 people! Rather than it being a defensive “this-guy-came-to-my-house-to-kill-my-children-so-i-clunked-him-one”, it became a “I’m-a-Jew-yeoo-I-will-kill-you-because-you-hate-me-grrrr”. The cull might have been half that number, but Esther asks the King to allow the killing to go on for another day. What the flip??!!
I can’t help but notice that before this request to the King, there is no three days of fasting and prayer.
So, as I head off to get my beauty sleep… What have I learned from this story? It could take a while to refine, but it seems to me that given a little bit of power, men and women can be complete idiots.
Thank God for grace.
Its been a while.
I’ve been visiting my wp dashboard (read: stats) regularly and inwardly bemoaning my lack of writing of late. It makes me a little sad, as I really do enjoy the old blogosphere. I guess I’ve been hit by a kind of blog-block – a lot of things crossing my mind to write about, but never quite discovering the time to write.
So, here I find myself scribbling a quick hello to my faithful reader(s??) – realising that perhaps its because I was too lazy to search through the too-slow-for-words on screen tv guide on my digibox, thus resorting to switching the tellybox off that indicates that facebook is not the only stealer of my life and time, but rather the tv. Hmmm… AND I don’t even like it that much!
Life to the fool…
There are, I suppose, many things going on for me in my small corner – plenty to be keeping the wee head ticking over. Like, I spent some time this term thinking about biblical inspiration and interpretation. I thought about blogging about it, but figured my regurgitation of the scholarship of others may not exactly be all that riveting. But perhaps some sort of summary of my findings or my journey might be helpful to me and… er… well, interesting for you (if you’re into that sort of thing!).
I’ve enjoyed hearing some stuff about the Incarnation; I’ve been surprised by some teaching on self-esteem I thought I was going to hate; I’ve had to distill some of my thoughts on singleness in order to try and ‘teach’ some stuff to recent graduates; and I’ve embarked on a voyage of 100% support-raising to go work with a church in France… All in all, yes… there’ve been some big things going on. AND my friend cut me a fringe.
Its all go over here.